Gregory Gondwe, assistant professor of journalism studies at Cal State San Bernardino, is one of 33 educators selected from across the country for a new program by the Center for Community News (CCN) at the University of Vermont. The program was created to fund faculty champions who are starting and growing local news partnerships.

“I am delighted and honored to have been selected as one of the 33 faculty champions for the new program at CCN at the University of Vermont,” said Gondwe. “It is a testament to the importance of local news and reflects my teaching agenda, which centers around amplifying the voices of our local communities, particularly those in San Bernardino County.”

Gondwe’s focus is to increase reporting on the Hispanic community, including coverage of new immigrants and their hopes and challenges, consulting with families and parents of the primarily Hispanic student body at CSUSB, and building a news partnership with the San Bernardino Sun newspaper.

According to research by the Local News Initiative, local news is in a crisis with two community papers disappearing a week. University-led student reporting programs are stepping in, providing a new source of news to millions of Americans.

The 33 faculty champions come from 21 different states. Fifteen of them work at Minority-Serving Institutions where student populations are majority non-white, including historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. CSUSB is both a Minority-Serving Institution and Hispanic-Serving Institution, with 67% of its students identifying as Hispanic.

Total funding of $54,000 is provided. Champions receive $1,000 each and four institutions are receiving $6,000 each, including Claflin University, Lane College, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University.

“At the core of these local news partnerships are innovative and creative faculty,” said Richard Watts, director of the CCN. “This program seeks to recognize them and support their work in connecting and creating more such partnerships.”

Proposed faculty-led projects include the only collegiate-level, student-led Native news and information program in the nation, a program to build and report on a statewide education funding data base, police accountability coverage in south Chicago, Spanish language reporting in California and meeting the local news needs of rural communities in Athens, Rock Hill, Orangeburg, Milledgeville, North Texas and many more.

See the list of champions and programs on the University of Vermont website.